The Barracuda 18LP's 3.6 gigs per platter begs comparison with the IBM Ultrastar 18ES. From performance testing already conducted here at StorageReview.com, however, it's clear that the comparison should be performed against today's premiere 7200rpm SCSI drive: the Western Digital Enterprise WDE18300. Windows 95 tests yield neck-and-neck performance. The Business Disk WinMark 99 places the Seagate in the lead over the WD by an unnoticeable 1%. The High-End Disk WinMark reverses the situation, the Barracuda trailing by a negligible 1%. Testing in Windows NT, however, reveals a larger difference in performance between the two units. Here the Seagate drive trails the Western Digital by 9% in the Business Disk WinMark and a fairly substantial 13% in High-End tests.
Adaptec's ThreadMark tests in both Windows 95 and Windows NT mirrored the 13% difference suggested by the Windows NT High-End WinMark. Here the Barracuda trailed the Enterprise by margins of 13%-14%.
Backtracking a bit, comparisons with the IBM Ultrastar 18ES yield closer margins, but in most cases still have the Barracuda trailing. The IBM leads by 2%-3% under Windows 9x WinMarks and by 6%-8% in Windows NT.
The two previous-generation Barracudas tested here at StorageReview.com were leaders when it came to noise and heat-- that is to say, they were loud and hot. This latest Barracuda manages to tone down here. In particular, seek noises are greatly improved, the drive rumbling through searches with a bit less noise. Subjectively, the drive operates cooler than the older 9LP series, though still a bit warm outside of a drive cooler. At any rate, the Barracuda is unfortunately warmer and noisier than either of its competitors.
While the lowering in heat and noise ceilings are commendable, I have to admit to being disappointed that the venerable Barracuda line was unable to displace the WD Enterprise as the premiere 7200rpm SCSI disk. In perspective, however, if the Enterprise didn't exist, the situation thus far in the enterprise-class drive arena would almost mirror last year's results: IBM's drive leading in most categories with Seagate paving a close second. WD's drive does exist, however, and delivers performance exceeding that of the two incumbents'. The Barracuda line features a long, proud, and proven lineage, but the drive to get today when it comes to performance, noise, or heat is still the WD Enterprise 18300.